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Introduction to Literary Study


This course introduces students to the university-level study of literature. By the end of it students should be able to answer the following questions: what is literature and what is it for? What is the point of studying it, as opposed to just reading it? What do literary critics do when they study texts, and how does what they do differ from casual reading? Are some interpretations more valid than others, and if so, how do we decide? Above all, what techniques do literary texts use to make meaning?

The course devotes roughly equal time to each of the three major forms of writing—poetry, prose, and drama—relying on short selections from mostly contemporary authors from Canada and around the world. Each week will be devoted to a basic element of literary art—things like plot structure, characterization, narration, situation and setting, style and tone, form, genre, rhetoric, figurative language, and many others—with short readings chosen to illustrate the different ways in which these elements can be deployed, and the effects they can produce. Students will learn a set of terms and concepts that will help them to analyse literary texts in a systematic way, and to write about them with precision.

A series of short written assignments provide the opportunity to develop their academic writing skills. Topics covered will include analytical paragraphs (claim-evidence-analysis), strong introductory paragraphs with assertive thesis statements, the logical organization and clear expression of ideas, the effective use of evidence, and the responsible documentation of sources.


Each term, students will be responsible for participation in weekly tutorials, two short written assignments, and an exam.

There will be no in-person lectures; instead, course content will be delivered asynchronously in the form of text and short videos. There will be weekly, in-person tutorials, at which attendance is mandatory; at least one tutorial will be offered remotely, for the benefit of students unable to come to Kingston. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to attend weekly drop-in Zoom meetings with the instructor; these meetings are purely optional, unlike tutorials.

Additional information

ENGL 100 is a prerequisite for all subsequent ENGL courses. This course involves two lectures and one tutorial per week. Students must enrol in the same section and the same tutorial for the entire year. Enrolment preference is given to first-year students.

Also offered as an online course; first-year on-campus Arts students are excluded from the online section.

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.